Have you ever wondered why even though it is mostly common knowledge that December isn’t the actual month of Jesus’ historical birth, the early church chose to use the Celtic feast of the winter solstice to celebrate the birth of Jesus?
The answer lies in the idea that the implications of some stories are bigger and truer that they need a grander metaphor for its message to be grasped.
In the case of Christmas, the early church wanted to communicate not just the version with shepherds, angels, and wise men, although they are there. They wanted to make sure that we understood that this is story of cosmic proportions. It is the story of light entering, and overcoming darkness.
They chose the bleak mid-winter, the time where the sun hid its face from the earth to give way to the darkest and coldest season in the northern hemisphere. They chose the night that had the last harvest in the farthest point of their rearview mirror and nothing but the cold and dark in front of them, hoping that spring would be a reality in the distant future.
On the night of the solstice, the nervously pondered how long their supplies would actually last. But at the same time they fixed their eyes on mountains in the hopes of spotting the casting of most subtle shadow. This would reveal to them, that though the sun isn’t visible yet, it would be reborn. The light would come, fears would be calmed and joy would reign.
They wanted to tell the truer story that this is who God is.
He is the one who enters into our darkest seasons, the moments when our longing, our aching, and our pinning for something beyond our fear, or the reality of our pain is at its strongest. And when he comes, the light he brings, produces something so beautiful in us that in can only be described as the fullness of life.
There is a grander story here. A truer story.
It is the idea that even though we go through seasons of darkness, it is here that the promise of light and life is more real.
It is a reminder to us that the darkest seasons of life is not the place where grace goes to die, it is the place where it goes to be reborn.
As the ancient Celtic people longed for the winter solstice, they saw it as a period of waiting, not a passive kind of waiting, but rather an engaged type of waiting. An expectant kind that actually impacted the coming of the sun. So the early church took this idea and gave us Advent — the idea the it is in this period of waiting is essential in our transformation.
The question remains for us:
How should we wait for Christmas?
How should we wait for the Light?
In these next weeks we invite you to join us think about these ideas: Faithfulness, Hope, Joy, and Love as away for us to actively engage this period — the season of our most intense hopes and dreams, as we wait for the One for whom they rest in.